Formulaic Language and the Lexicon

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A considerable proportion of our everyday language is "formulaic". It is predictable in form and idiomatic—apparently stored in fixed or semi-fixed chunks. This book explores the nature and purposes of formulaic language, and looks for patterns across the research findings from the fields of discourse analysis, first language acquisition, language pathology and applied linguistics. It gradually builds up a unified description and explanation of formulaic language as a linguistic solution to a larger, non-linguistic, problem, the promotion of self.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'The achievements of the book are considerable. It is the most comprehensive look at the phrasal lexicon so far attempted. … Those who are concerned centrally with the nature of formulaic speech have cause to be grateful that someone has, at last, taken the domain seriously enough to attempt a synopsis of its literature in broad outline. … Given the centrality of formulaic language in social life, Formulaic Language and the Lexicon is essential reading.' Journal of Sociolinguistics

'Formulaic Language and the Lexicon encourages us to rethink the way we describe language and to refocus our studies on the way language actually behaves, rather than the way existing theories and models suggest that it should.' Language Awareness

Wray (language and communication, Cardiff U., Wales) was puzzled that intermediary and advanced students of a second language have more trouble using formulaic expressions correctly than do beginning students. Her investigation led her to reaffirm that native-speaker intuition is the best witness to the part of a lexicon that speakers use with the most creative flexibility. She warns that those who are committed to the notion that lexis, grammar, interaction, and discourse structure can be understood in mutual isolation will be disappointed. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521773096
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2005
  • Pages: 348
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

Part I. What Formulaic Sequences Are: 1. The whole and the parts; 2. Detecting formulaicity; 3. Pinning down formulaicity; Part II. A Reference Point: 4. Patterns of formulaicity in normal adult language; 5. The function of formulaic sequences: a model; Part III. Formulaic Sequences in First Language Acquisition: 6. Patterns of formulaicity in child language; 7. Formulaic sequences in the first language acquisition; Part IV. Formulaic Sequences in a Second Language: 8. Non-native language: overview; 9. Patterns of formulaicity in children using a second language; 10. Patterns of formulaicity in adults and teenagers using a second language; 11. Formulaic sequences in second language acquisition: a model; Part V. Formulaic Sequences in Language Loss: 12. Patterns of formulaicity in aphasic language; 13. Formulaic sequences in aphasia: a model; Part VI. An Integrated Model: 14. The variable unit distributed lexicon.

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